In order for salespeople to help their prospect sell internally, they must understand the sales environment. Therefore, in the last two posts of this series we've covered two key components that define environment: (1) where the prospect is in the purchase cycle and (2) who is on the prospect's buying team. With a full appreciation of these, you'll be better positioned to develop the most creative and effective sales strategy.
But before jumping right into forming a sales strategy for your prospect to execute, there's a critical step that must come first: defining objectives. All sales calls or presentations begin in the mind of the salesperson with a clear one sentence statement of purpose. A sales strategy without objectives is useless, so skipping this step – a common temptation for many – is a colossal error.
Before you initiate any sales process, regardless of whether you have direct access to the buying team, ask yourself: What's my purpose? By identifying one, it forces you to think about your environment, drawing upon the knowledge outlined in the previous two posts, and what you need to do to transfer your belief in your solution throughout the rest of the target organisation.
In general, there are two types of sales calls, and a salesperson's objective will differ greatly depending on which one they're entering.
- Transactional sales calls
These are calls in which you expect a sale to take place at that time. They're going to be mostly simple sales that don't require a large investment of time or resources on the prospect's behalf.
- Developmental sales calls
These are the sales calls we engage in most of the time as a part of the overall sales process, those for which you anticipate you'll need to put in a significant amount of effort, working with many people over a long period of time. They require that you take a multipronged approach and lead, coach and counsel the prospect throughout the entire purchasing process.
When you're faced with the challenge we're addressing in this series of helping your champion sell internally, you're clearly dealing with a more complex sale that requires multiple developmental sales calls. Because of that, you should begin the process by defining not just one objective with a simple endpoint, but a cascading series of objectives, starting with a broad, overarching one and becoming more and more focused on immediate goals.
These objectives can be broken into four levels. For each, we've provided a generic example of what the actual objective might be:
- Overall objective: What's your ideal end result?
For example: Prospect organisation makes long-term commitment to your product or service.
- Intermediate objective: What will help you fulfill your overall objective?
For example: Prospect trials your product or service by investing in one part of it.
- Short-range objective: What will help you fulfill your intermediate objective?
For example: Your contact (within the prospect organisation) presents the case for trialing one part of the product or service to the buying team.
- Immediate objective: What will help you fulfill your short-range objective?
For example: Your contact arranges a meeting with the buying team.
As you consider each of these levels of objectives, it's crucial that you couch them in regards to the actions that the prospect must take. Too many salespeople concentrate on inputs, thereby framing objectives around what action they're going to do. But the purpose of a sales call isn't your activities. Instead, it's about getting the prospect to take desired actions that lead to a result.
What's your purpose? Regardless of whether you're entering a transactional or developmental sales call, you'll need to devise an effective sales strategy and tactics. And what makes for good strategy development? We will cover this next time, in our last post of this series.
How can salespeople help their prospect sell internally? As a salesperson, it's a question you will often face because, for whatever reason you simply cannot gain direct access to the purchasing authority: the person (or people) who have the economic power to make a purchasing decision.
In order to devise the best strategy and plan of action for your prospect/champion to sell internally, a salesperson must understand their environment. Last time we provided a basic outline of the purchase cycle. By understanding this construct, salespeople gain tremendous insights into an organisation’s current ‘state of mind’ and what kind of information it will most likely be seeking, both now and in the future.
But we don't sell companies or organisations – we sell people. So it should go without saying that the most creative of strategies and tactics are people-oriented. Therefore, it's crucial to understand the types of people that make up a buying team, in terms of the roles they play, and the forces impacting upon them. With this knowledge, you can create an effective sales strategy for your prospect that will address the different needs and motivations of the buying team members.
Regardless of however many people are on a buying team (3, 7, 12, 30…), its members can be distilled down into three, distinct categories:
The ultimate authority is almost always one person. Although it may appear as if authority is vested in a committee or a group, this is very rarely the case. Within the buying team, they're often the person with position power (but not always!), and in most cases, they hold all of the economic power. In other words, without their final approval, the team will rarely make a purchase.
These are the people who will put the product or service to work within the organisation. Unlike the authority, they can't say yes and approve a purchase, but if they believe the solution won't be effective, they can certainly express reservations and say no. They can also be highly credible champions.
These are the experts charged with the responsibility of ensuring the solution will work. As with implementers/users, they can't say yes, but if they believe the product or service won't function as required, they can say no. Note that a "technicians" expertise doesn't necessarily apply to the ‘technology’ of the product/service. For example, a technician could be a lawyer advising on how the contract is written.
Whether or not you can gain direct access to the buying team, it's critical to understand who the players are and the role each of them play. When you can gain direct access to the buying team, you can improve your chances of success by matching members from each of the three categories with members from your own selling team. For example, if you can get your engineers talking directly with their engineers, or your product specialist talking directly with the prospect's, communication can be more productive and effective.
But even in instances when you don't have direct access to the buying team, you can couple your previous knowledge of *where* the prospect is in the purchase cycle with this new knowledge of *who* your contact/champion needs to be selling to internally. This will arm you with a big-picture view of the organisation's environment and allow you to leverage as much creativity as possible as you consider your objectives, sales strategy and tactics.
Next time we'll look at defining your objectives, and after that we'll wrap it all up by discussing what to consider when forming your sales strategy.